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Army secretary nominee Mark Green draws opposition from military academics, ex-Pentagon official

Former Army officer Mark Green has been nominated by President Donald Trump to become the next Secretary of the Army.

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By MICHAEL COLLINS | The Commercial Appeal (Tribune News Service) | Published: April 28, 2017

WASHINGTON — Army secretary nominee Mark Green encountered more opposition on Friday, this time from a group of military academics and a former Pentagon official who warned that his comments about gays and lesbians and other groups pose a “serious threat” to the military’s core values.

A group of 21 current and former faculty members at military service academies, war colleges and other military universities released a statement saying they are alarmed by what they called Green’s history “of extreme statements and actions and by the prospect of his becoming the next secretary of the Army.”

“Mark Green would undermine good order and discipline by fostering dissension within the ranks and sowing confusion about what the military stands for,” the statement said.

Daniel Feehan, an Iraq War veteran who was a top Pentagon official under former President Barack Obama, also announced his opposition to Green, arguing that the Tennessean’s legislative record and his public statements could hamper military recruitment efforts.

“The statements he has made on a number of fronts — in particular to the LGBT community, to different minority groups, different religious groups — are a great, great concern toward military readiness,” said Feehan, who served as principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for readiness from 2015 until earlier this year.

It’s already hard enough to recruit a talented, diverse military to accomplish critical missions, Feehan said. Green’s record and public statements will make that job even more difficult by creating an environment in which potential recruits might feel unwelcome, Feehan said.

“The way the military works, the way the Pentagon works, your reputation precedes you,” Feehan said.

If Green is confirmed, his statements would have an immediate impact on unit cohesion, Feehan said.

The opposition from Feehan and the military academics comes just days after 31 House Democrats signed a letter calling on the Senate to reject Green’s nomination.

Green, a former Army officer and West Point graduate who was deployed three times overseas, was nominated for the Army’s top position earlier this month by President Donald Trump. Green, who also is a physician, is a Republican state senator from Tennessee whose conservative philosophy lines up closely with the tea party.

It’s his legislative record and his public comments that have set off alarms among various minority groups.

Multiple LGBT groups have denounced Green’s nomination, calling him “a social issues warrior” who has worked to undermine LGBT rights at every turn. One of the groups, GLAAD, has released audio from a radio program in which Green, discussing transgender bathroom issues and ISIS, said his responsibility as a state senator was to “crush evil.”

In their statement, the military academics also pointed to Green’s sponsorship of legislation that would allow mental health practitioners to refuse to treat LGBT patients, his suggestion that being transgender is “a disease” and his support for a bill that would effectively bar transgender high school and college students from using public restrooms.

“All who wear the uniform and risk their lives to defend our freedom deserve the respect and dignity they have earned, including LGBT members, Latinos, women and religious minorities, but Green has a history of creating exceptions for those who don’t want to treat others equally and respectfully,” the statement said.

“We cannot afford leaders whose priorities are inconsistent with military values,” the academics concluded. “Mark Green is a serious threat to what makes our country great.”

The statement was released by the Palm Center, a San Francisco-based think tank that successfully worked to overturn the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military.

Aaron Belkin, the center’s executive director, said the military academics decided to speak out because they feared Green’s “long record of divisive and extreme behavior” stands in stark contrast to what makes the military strong.

In addition to his record on LGBT issues, Green has come under fire from a Muslim advocacy group because of past statements he made that the organization considers derogatory toward the Islamic faith and its followers.

In a Facebook post earlier this week, Green blasted his critics for "cutting and splicing my words to paint me as a hater." He wrote that every American has a right to defend their country and that he has never considered himself anyone’s judge.

But Belkin said, “No matter what gloss he puts on his record at the confirmation hearing, he can’t run from who he is. He’s an extremist.”

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©2017 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)
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